So after a weekend in which we saw the Royals get swept by their Surprise, Arizona counterparts, it is natural to believe that this will be the beginning of the end for contention hopes. We've seen this act before. You know the one where the Royals get off to a hot start and then after a rough road trip, losing streak, or a stretch of bullpen meltdowns they go into a tailspin and reclaim their rightful place in the cellar of the AL Central.
The Royals are 2-5 in the last week. They have lost three straight games in Texas by a combined eight runs. But consider this: entering the series at Texas the Royals were the last remaining AL team to not split or lose a series. This wasn't going to continue forever and while we hoped the Royals could at least steal one win, they won't be the last team this season to get swept in the home of the defending AL champions.
This week could have been the statement that the team and it's fans needed to really begin to believe. A four game showdown with the first place Indians and a trip to Texas. Instead the Royals won just two games. Dissappointing to say the least. But wait. The Royals after an incredibly dissappointing week find themselves just 1.5 games out of first place and tied for second place in the division.
The Royals just had the worst week of their young season. A week that saw them win just two of seven games. They began the week in second place and 1 game out of first and they ended the week in second place just 1.5 games out of first.
Even after a week that saw their opponents outscore them 30-42, the Royals maintain a positive run differential of 112-105, meaning they are one of seven American League teams with a positive number. Plug that figure into the pythagorean thereom for baseball records and we find that the Royals should be standing at twelve wins. The Royals record right now? 12-10.
Maybe the Royals have gotten off to the fast start because of that easy schedule we all talked about prior to the season. That would be an indication of looming dissappointment except that it isn't true. Actually thus far the Royals rank third in strength of schedule for all of baseball with a combined opponent's winning percentage of .530. The Tigers rank 15th, Indians 17th, White Sox 20th and Twins 26th. Who has really played the easy schedule?
As a result of their run differential and their strength of schedule the Royals rank fourth in espn's rpi formula (highest in AL Central) and seventh (second in the AL Central) in espn's power rankings. Of course we know that championships aren't awarded based off computer formulas (not in professional baseball at least), so the Royals need to continue to win.
This week could be the statement week for the boys in blue. The Royals will begin the week 1.5 games out of first with a three game series at the first place Cleveland Indians followed by thre home games against a defending division champ. It doesn't sound like the Royals are out of contention. Not yet.